11/30/2009

Cookie Dough Gifts

Thanksgiving is over, is everyone starting their Holiday treat-making? Bring on the sugar!
Here's an easy way to send treats--no baking, no decorating, and it's gorgeous!
Works for me!

I recently discovered C&H® / Domino® Sugar's inexpensive homemade gift ideas and I love their idea of giving wrapped cookie dough as gifts! Everyone gets so many treats during the Holidays--this is something your friends can throw in the freezer then pull out whenever they want some hot cookies. Brilliant! Their Egg-Free Sugar Cookie Dough recipe got rave reviews from my little cookie monsters. They even have adorable Gift Tags with cooking instructions that you can print and attach.

Egg-Free Sugar Cookie Dough from C&H Sugar
Ingredients:
1 cup C&H Pure Cane Sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions:
Cookie Dough: In large bowl, mix sugar and butter. Beat in egg substitute and vanilla until light and fluffy. Mix in flour and baking soda. Divide dough into halves. Shape each half into roll about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
For Gift Giving: First, tightly wrap roll in plastic wrap. Then, cut a sheet of parchment paper 6 inches-8 inches wider than the cookie roll. Wrap the cookie dough in the parchment paper, tying ends with ribbon. Print out and attach the Baking Instructions we've provided, then decorate wrapped cookie dough with holiday cheer! Refrigerate, minimum 1 hour, until chilled. Cookie dough can also be frozen. Maintain refrigerated until baking. Print the tag with Baking Instructions and attach to Cookie Dough.
To Bake Cookies: If cookie dough is frozen, defrost to a chilled temperature before baking. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut rolls into 1/4-inch slices. Place on cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool on wire rack Cookie dough cn aldo be rolled out on a lightly floured surface, and cut out with cookie cutters. To decorate: frost cookies with Royal Icing and add sprinkles.

~Special thanks to of C&H® / Domino® Sugar who sponsored this post with a $20 gift card for ingredients~

11/24/2009

Kraft Recipe for Joy Giveaway

I hope you are all enjoying your holiday feasts! I'm thankful for a great family, great friends, great food, and a great life.
While you are digesting, could you please take a few seconds to send a free e-card?
It's super-easy and will feed 10 hungry people!

That's right! Kraft Foods has teamed up with Feeding America to donate up to one million meals to needy families this holiday season. For every free e-card sent, Kraft Foods will donate 10 meals to Feeding America. Now that's a Recipe for Joy!

I'm also having a friendly competition with 11 other bloggers to see who can get the most cards sent, so please help out! You can send as many cards as you want up to December 31! Please leave a comment here if you send a card--I'll be picking one random comment and will give a $100 donation to our local family shelter in their name.

Also, Kraft is providing one Gourmet Mom reader
a Loaded Gift Basket!
filled with:

-4 delicious holiday recipes from the Kraft Foods Kitchens
-a Zak Designs garlic peeler
-an HA Mack olivewood mixing spoon
-NEW Velveeta Rotini and Cheese Whole Grain
-Planters cocktail peanuts
-Planters pecans
-Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate
-Stove Top
-Honey Maid cinnamon crackers
-Jet Puffed marshmallows
-Oreos
-Kraft salad dressing
-NEW Maxwell House Blend coffee
-NEW Ritz Brown Sugar Cinnamon crackers
-NEW Wheat Thins Flatbread crackers

They sent one to me and I'll be sharing all the yummy items with my friends!

Kraft is really using their online social media outlets and would like your feedback on thier Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube Channel. I really love the "Cooking School" videos on their YouTube channel!

To Enter to win
the Loaded Gourmet Gift Basket:

(do any or all of the following!)
1) Visit Kraft's Facebook page and leave a comment here telling me one thing you like, what you don't like, or what you'd like to see.

2) Visit Kraft's Twitter page and leave a comment here telling me one thing you like, what you don't like, or what you'd like to see.

3) Visit Kraft's YouTube Channel and leave a comment here telling me one thing you like, what you don't like, or what you'd like to see.

2) Send a free Recipe for Joy e-card and feed 10 hungry people! (as many entries as you want, leave a comment for each)

This Giveaway is now closed. We have a winner!
Michele P. who said...
"from their Facebook page I liked the recipes section of course, but also the Thanksgiving Central section which actually can be a customized tab for any holiday, such as Christmas, Easter etc... and give recipes, hints and tips pertaining to foods eaten on that day."

11/23/2009

Turkey Sundaes

We're giving away one of Crayola's hottest toys of the year! Go here to leave a comment and enter.

Happy Thanksgiving!
We're off to see some of our favorite friends--we haven't been together in over 5 years and I'm really looking forward to it.
Here's a tasty Thanksgiving treat for the kiddos (and adults!) that you can make in a snap. Have various flavors of ice cream & toppings on hand, let everyone customize their own treat, and watch them gobble (ha!) it up! I saw these adorable turkey cookies from Kimi Coopet and thought they'd be so cute in their own "ice cream nest". Here are the results!


Turkey Sundaes
Turkey Cookie Ingredients:
Oreo Double Stuff Cookies (2 for each turkey)
Candy Corn (9 for each turkey)
Mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (1 for each turkey)
Whoppers Candy (1 for each turkey)
Edible Eyeballs (or use vanilla frosting and a mini chocolate chip)
Vanilla & Chocolate Icing

Sundae Ingredients:
Mini Graham Cracker Pie Shells (we used Keebler Ready-Crusts, available in the baking aisle)
Ice Cream
Toppings
Whipped Cream
Sprinkles

Directions:
Here are the things you need to assemble one turkey. Let's get going!

Carefully slice the edge off of one of your double stuff oreos. Open oreo and generously spread extra vanilla icing inside. Add Candy Corn "feathers" and close the cookie.
Spread icing on the cut side of your cookie and attach to the second oreo.At this point, I started using chocolate icing since it blended better, but you can still use vanilla if you want. Cut a small piece off the bottom of your reese's cup and attach to cookie with icing. Add a Whopper for the head, two candy corns for the "wings", eyeballs, and a candy corn "beak". You can also tint some icing orange and add feet, but I didn't to that (we will on Thanksgiving Day). This turkey is ready for his Sundae Nest!
Gather the mini pie crust shells and your favorite ice creams, toppings, etc..Make a sundae and add whipped cream and sprinkles around the border.
Gobble, Gobble!

11/22/2009

Crayola Mega Gift Giveaway!

Black Friday is this week! Shopping craziness!
Well...how about getting a little done right now?...
We're giving away one of the season's hottest gifts from Crayola, the Color Explosion Glow Dome !
We were sent a fabulous box from Crayola through MyBlogSpark with a Crayola Color Explosion Glow Dome, the Crayola Glow Station, and Crayola Color Me a Song. I let my girls pick one of the toys to keep and we decided to give the other two toys away to families who need them. The Color Explosion Glow Dome is the one they picked and we have ALL had so much fun playing with this! We take turns picking a "theme". Then, one person colors the middle of the dome and another person colors the outside. We put them together, choose a lights setting and watch it come to life. So much fun!
To Enter:
(you can do any or all of these things, up to 5 entries)

1) Leave a comment here telling me something you do to inspire creativity with your children/grandchildren/neices/nephews, etc.

2) Enter the Crayola Give the Gift of Creativity Sweepstakes (details below, leave a comment here telling me that you did it)

3) Follow this blog (you can join on the right sidebar)

4) Tweet this giveaway (leave a comment letting me know)

5) Facebook this giveaway (leave a comment)
We'll pick one random winner on 11/29 to receive the Crayola Color Explosion Glow Dome. Now, that's my kind of shopping!;) Open to US Residents.


Crayola's Give the Gift of Creativity Sweepstakes
You can enter to win a 7-night Caribbean cruise for a family of 4 on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. All you have to do is
go here and create a Crayola wish list for your child. We did it together and the kids had fun!



Crayola Glow Station illuminates children´s imaginations through the magic of drawing with light on a large-size glow-in-the-dark canvas. Using a light wand, children can either draw freehand or use stencils and texture sheets to create more realistic drawings. A diamond-shaped tip can be snapped on the end of the light wand for stamping unique starburst designs on the canvas. Drawings magically disappear over time, or can be "erased" by turning on the lights, so kids can create again and again for limitless fun.

Crayola Beginnings Color Me A Song lets little ones draw to the beat of their own drum, trumpet, piano or guitar. This portable drawing and music creation station features a pressure-sensitive board that matches a melody to the artist´s pace. Draw fast, and the tempo picks up. Slow down, and so does the music. Four instrument buttons let kids pick their favorite sound. Color Me a Song was named a "Toy of the Year" by FamilyFun magazine and one of American Baby magazine´s picks for "Best Toys of the Year."

Special thanks to MyBlogSpark for sponsoring this giveaway.
We have a winner!
Laura who said... When my 3 year old niece asks me to read to her sometimes I ask her to "tell me a story" and since she can't really read yet, she looks at the pictures and makes up some of the most amazing things.

11/20/2009

The Neely's & Taste of Sam's

I just had a great conference call with two other foodie bloggers with Pat & Gina Neely from Down Home With the Neely's, one of my favorite Food Network shows! They were delightful!
You can watch their Down Home With the Holidays ideas here.I asked them what are their "Go-To" recipes that people always ask for. Gina said it's her Collard Green & Artichoke Dip. Pat said it's his "Pat's Chili" recipe. Both are in their new cookbook--I just put it on my Christmas list!


They have been busy doing some work with Sam's Club and they talked how much Sam's helped them out in the early stages of their restaurants--they bought a cash register there with their earnings from their first day (Pat was using a shoebox!). This weekend, you can go into Sam's Club for a fun Food Tasting and Holiday Ideas event!
“The Taste of Sam’s” events are going on in Sam’s Club locations across the country this weekend, November 20 – 22 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
We went yesterday and had a great time!!
Miss C even suckered me into buying a birthday cake for her party this weekend--I have NEVER bought a birthday cake but it was so cute and only $11!! I figured it was cheaper than the time/ingredients it would take me to re-create it.
All members and guests can walk into a Sam’s Club to see demonstrations for how to prepare Boneless Spiral Ham, Frenched Rack of Lamb as well as hand dipped chocolate desserts. Associates will also be sharing recipe cards, and other samples and tips throughout the events, so it’s a good opportunity to learn more about Sam’s and get some ideas / inspiration for holiday meals.

11/19/2009

No-Fail Quick French Bread

A fabulous French Bread that takes just over an hour from start to finish?!
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!... I am not the best at making homemade breads. I've tried zillions of recipes, some turn out part of the time, some are bad from the start.
I FINALLY found a quick and easy recipe for french bread, I've made this multiple times in the last month and it's come out great every time. I even tried it at 9,000 feet in Colorado and it worked, there, too! Hallelujah! All you need is a mixer with a dough hook (I used my KitchenAid).I was sent this recipe (the pictures are my own) and I think it's from a blog, the writing is very "blog-ish"...I've tried googling it and searching for it, so if it's from you, please let me know! I want to give you a huge hug. Or, at least a link to your blog.:)
No Fail Quick French Bread
Ingredients:
1 T shortening
1 T salt
2 T sugar
1 C boiling water
1 C cold water
1/3 C lukewarm water
1 T yeast (cut your yeast in half if you are at a high altitude)
4 1/2 C - 6 C flour
1 egg

Directions:
1. Place the 1 C hot water in the microwave for 3 minutes to get it boiling.
2. Dissolve the yeast into the warm water. Stir it around until it is all mixed.
3. Combine the salt, shortening, and sugar in the bottom of your mixer with a fork. The dough hook doesn't work very well.
4. Pour the boiling water over the shortening mixture.
5. Pour the cold water over the mixture.
6. Pour the warm water and yeast into the mixer.
7. Begin to add the flour, one cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the side of your mixer...see the picture below.
8. Let the dough mix on high for 8 minutes.
9. Let the dough rise in the mixer for about 20 minutes. (This step can actually be skipped if you are in a hurry!)
10. Separate the dough into three parts and place on a large jelly roll pan sprayed with cooking spray. Let the dough sit for about 5 minutes. Letting it sit will make it MUCH easier to shape.
11. Spread the dough out as pictured below.
12. Then roll the dough up like this.
13. Then bring the ends over and layer them on top of each other.
14. Turn the loaf so the seam side is down. Repeat these steps with the other 2 parts of dough.
15. Spray a sharp knife with cooking spray.
16. Make your egg wash by whisking the egg until frothy.
17. Cut three diagonal slits in the top of each loaf. Cover with the egg wash being sure to get it into all of the slits. 18. Place the loaves in a warm 170 degree oven and let rise for about 15 minutes.
19. Turn the oven up to 375 degrees for a convection oven, and 400 degrees for a regular oven. Leave the loaves in while the oven increases in temperature.
20. Bake for 10 minutes convection or 15 regular oven, or until the loaves are golden brown and crusty.
21. Turn the oven down to 325 for convection, 350 for regular and turn the pan around in the oven. Bake for another 7 minutes convection or 10 minutes for regular.

11/17/2009

Sassy Heels Cookies

I am feeling sassy today! I think this is why...
How cute are these cookie heels? I feel like shopping all of a sudden!;)
I have a confession to make...
I always keep Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix in my pantry!
I've made tons of sugar cookie recipes, but I always seem to go back to BC Sugar Cookie Mix because it makes quick cutouts and people always ask for the recipe! So, now you know my cookie secret! Shhhh.....

We recently made a ton of these sassy high-heeled cookies for an event. They were surprisingly easy! We outlined the cookies with royal icing, flooded them with thinned icing, then added swirls of thinned icing, edible pearls/beads, and a little of gold food coloring spray (when dry).

For more on flooding cookies with icing and a video tutorial, go here. Bridget at Bake at 350 is also a master and has good instructions here.

We also made some Cacao Barry Chocolate shoes for everyone to take home. yum.

11/13/2009

Market Street Clam Chowder

My husband and I LOVE good clam chowder. And, we've had lots. LOTS. We've gobbled it in Boston, we've slurped it in Seattle. We've tried it overseas. But, believe it or not, my husband's very favorite clam chowder is actually from a restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah called Market Street.
Fortunately, they've been kind enough to share their famous chowder recipe. We had it tonight with some of our dearest friends (with the extra addition of some fresh lump crabmeat--oh my!) and I hope you can add it as one of your own family-favorite comfort foods! Enjoy!

MARKET STREET CLAM CHOWDER
Ingredients:
3 large diced potatoes
2 qts. half & half-or 1 qt. cream, 1 qt. milk
1 cup diced celery
3/4 T. ground black pepper
1 cup diced onions
1/2 T. salt
1 diced green pepper
3/4 T. whole Thyme
1 cup diced leeks
3/4 cup chopped clams
5 drops Tabasco sauce
2 cups water
3/4 cup sherry (can substitute pineapple juice)
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup clam juice
1 cup flour

Directions:
Combine melted butter and flour in oven-proof container and bake at 325° for 30 minutes. In large saucepan combine potatoes, celery, onions, green peppers, leeks, clams, clam juice, seasonings, Tabasco, sherry & water. Simmer until potatoes are thoroughly cooked. Stir butter-flour mixture into chowder and stir until thick. Mixture will be slightly less thick than cookie dough.

Remove from heat. Stir in half & half until blended. Heat to serving temperature, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately. Serves 12.

11/03/2009

Pumpkin Mousse & Salted Caramels

Whew! I'm officially done with Halloween until next year. It was fun, but time to move onto bigger and better things...Holiday foods! Here's an easy and elegant favorite: Pumpkin Mousse!

...maybe add some made-in-the-microwave salted caramels, a little belgian chocolate & caramel sauce? That's what I'm talkin' about!;) The flavor combination of all these things is AMAZING, not to mention an impressive dessert for entertaining.

Pumpkin Mousse
Ingredients:
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
5 large egg yolks
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:
Combine egg yolks, 1 C. sugar and 3/4 C. cream in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until mixture thickens and coats the spoon (8-10 minutes). Remove from heat and add pumpkin, spices and salt. Stir well and cool completely. (You can speed up this process by putting it in the fridge or an ice bath).
Whip remaining heavy cream and vanilla to soft peaks and fold into cooled pumpkin mixture.
Serve in store-bought chocolate cups, or you can make your own easy chocolate balloon bowls.
For the spun-sugar garnish, I made this recipe for microwave hard candy, drizzled it on a cookie sheet sprayed lightly with cooking spray, and broke it into pieces once hardened.

To assemble dessert, put some melted chocolate into a ziploc baggie (I used Cacao Barry Dark Chocolate), snip off one end of bag and swirl on plate. When set, carefully spoon in a small amount of caramel sauce into several swirls. Add various cups of mousse and a couple salted caramels (recipe below).

Salted Microwave Caramels adapted from Bakespace
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Light Karo Syrup (not dark-doesn't set right)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup SWEETENED CONDENSED milk
1 t. vanilla
Sea Salt (I used a pink sea salt)
melted chocolate (optional)
Buttered 8x8 baking dish

Directions:
Melt butter in large microwave bowl. Stir in Karo syrup, both sugars and sweetened condensed milk. Mix until dissolved. Microwave on high 3-1/2 minutes. Stir down and scrape sides of bowl. Microwave on high 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Pour into buttered dish and refrigerate until set. When set, remove from fridge and cut into squares. Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt on each piece and drizzle chocolate on top (optional).